choosing sports as a career in India is like telling your parents you want to become a pirate. Since the field of ‘sports’ isn’t quite mainstream and ‘revenue generating,’ like engineering or medicine, people get jittery when their children tell them that they want to pursue a career in it.
However, it is possible that this will change with the first National Sports University all set to come up in Imphal, Manipur. The university aims to fill the void in various areas such as sports science, sports technology and high-performance training, according to a bill introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2017.
The only step that is left is the signing of the ordinance based on the lines of the bill mentioned above by the President of India.
India has its fair share of sports courses, but these are in state universities—the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education, the Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University, and the Swarnim Gujarat Sports University are a few of them. This new college coming up in Manipur, is the first Central University in India, to focus on sports education.
Sports today has enormous potential. Some of the best sports academies abroad, have unique facilities and offer students much more than just a degree on a piece of stamped paper.
Athletes require expertise, guidance and advice, from a strong network of support personnel, to maximise their potential. Thus, areas like sports science, sports nutrition, sports medicine, sports psychology, rehabilitation, strength and conditioning, are critical factors in preparing a modern-day athlete.
Well, we have compiled a list of what we think, are the best features, from the top sports courses from around the world, that the university coming up in Manipur can implement.
1. An exhaustive library, with material across formats:
This is the most crucial part of any university. A stellar example of a great library can be the one in the Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University, a place which encourages research, and is stocked with over 2900 books! While a well-stocked library should have information, it is also essential that it is spread across formats. The library in the Tamil Nadu sports university, has textbooks, reference books, journals and magazines, dissertations, reports, CD’s, etc.
2. Guest Faculty:
While the in-house faculty is always there to guide the students and take them through the course, calling guest faculty is a huge bonus, as it increases the student’s interest immediately.
For example, guest lecturers at the School of Sports Studies, Leisure and Nutrition under the University of Liverpool, have included the likes of Premier League football coach, Mike Phelan. Thanks to more than 35 years of experience in the football industry, he was able to impart vital insights to the students during the sessions he held.
3. Mental health student services and counselling:
Psychological counselling is essential for students studying any course. The best practices for establishing mental health services at a collegiate level include keeping critical members of a mental health services team, like a clinical psychologist, a psychiatrist and a licensed clinical social worker, with experience in mental health counselling.
Every student should be familiar with the services available, and how to access them. Regular screening of student-athletes will ensure that concerns like anxiety and depression are diagnosed early if present.
4. A dedicated career centre:
In India, the day of placements at any university is regarded as the most important—a culmination of the hard work put in during course hours—and it is essential that such a provision is set up in a sports university as well.
Typical career options for graduates of sports universities include sports development managers, sports programme organisers, club development and training, sports media and marketing, etc.
5. Ample campus space/tie-ups with stadiums:
All leading sports universities worldwide have excellent facilities for their students.
For example, the Loughborough University offers its students access to around 27 laboratories, including the ones that have the latest molecular, physiological and environmental technology, climatic chambers, human biology, psychology, physiology and biomechanics laboratories, a high-performance athletics centre, as well as a hockey pitch, a badminton centre etc.
If the campus space doesn’t allow for courts to be set up, the university can tie up with the nearest stadium, so students can use facilities there when required.
6. A dedicated centre for food and nutritional sciences:
While training is one half of the bargain, knowledge about nutrition is fundamental, if a student is to have an all-round approach to training athletes. Food and nutrition courses help students understand the workings of the human body better—and know what harms, and what benefits the human body, with regards to what to eat, and more importantly, what to avoid.
7. Student strength and conditioning facilities:
What is the use of learning something, when you cannot implement it?
A dedicated strength and conditioning centre on campus will be great for students, who can put into practice what they have learnt, before trying those principles on others. A gym is also a great place to beat stress, especially after a full day of classes.
8. Financial Aid:
Usually, financial aid is given for courses that have a good “return on investment,” like MBA’s. Financial assistance for sports management and sports science courses is essential as well. There are many, who will shy away from the course, because of the fear of a debt burden with no way of repaying it. A corpus amount, maintained by alumni, can help needy yet deserving students achieve their academic and professional dreams.
The National University for sports in Manipur couldn’t come at a better time, because today, sports is not an extracurricular activity that has an hour allocated to it in school. It is a multi-billion dollar industry, and a degree in sports science from the university in Manipur could be the ticket to your dream job, in this field.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)